PHOENIX -- DeMarcus Cousins saves some of his best games for the Suns. And with a chip on his shoulder coming into Phoenix, the results were predictable.
Cousins, who scored a career-high 41 points against the Suns last season, had 34 points on 12-for-16 shooting in three quarters of work Thursday as the Kings won a battle of scoring runs, 117-103.
Cousins had 17 points in the first quarter, including the last 15 Sacramento points on an array of shots that showed all of his talents.
"We have a unique big man," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "He can play big, but he has the skills of a guard and a perimeter player. He can shoot. You can use him in a variety of ways. He can pass the basketball, he has the whole package. As he grows up and settles into playing every night in the NBA ... he's a special talent, and you saw a lot that tonight."
Cousins was also motivated after sitting out the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 105-98 win at Golden State because Smart was upset about his defense.
"There was some frustration there for sure," Cousins said. "I just feel like I got it going early. My jump shot was falling, and with them giving me my jump shots, that helped the rest of my game. It was fun. Even when we made mistakes, we came back from them and made some pluses."
Isaiah Thomas added 23 points and eight assists, and Tyreke Evans had 12 points for the Kings. Sacramento (27-46) won for the fourth time in its past six games despite 18 turnovers.
Luis Scola had 25 points and P.J. Tucker 18 for the Suns, who played without Goran Dragic and Jermaine O'Neal, both resting. The Suns (23-50) have lost five in a row and are now 2-10 since losing Marcin Gortat to a foot injury that could cost him the rest of the season.
Phoenix had won 12 of its previous 13 home games against the Kings, but the team that did most of that isn't here anymore -- and this one tightened its grip on the worst record in the Western Conference. Suns guard Kendall Marshall had nine points and 10 assists in his second NBA start in place of Dragic, but he followed a few minutes of good play with a few minutes of struggles.
The Suns spent the night shaving down double-digit deficits, the last one with a 9-0 run that cut a 16-point Kings lead to 94-87 on a Jared Dudley 3-pointer with eight minutes left. However, with Cousins and Thomas on the bench, the Kings reeled off a 15-4 run and took complete command at 109-91 on a Jimmer Fredette 3-pointer with 4:19 to go.
"Guys had mental lapses at times on different coverages ... especially at crucial times when we had the game manageable and a chance to get a little closer," said Suns coach Lindsey Hunter, now 10-22 since taking over from Alvin Gentry. "We made timely mistakes on rotations, part of it just because guys haven't played much together."
Cousins and Thomas combined for 28 of Sacramento's 38 points in the first quarter and 23 of the final 25. Cousins' 21-footer gave the Kings their biggest lead at 38-30.
The first part of the second quarter went well for the Suns. Phoenix wiped out a 42-34 Kings lead with eight straight points, and Dudley tied the score at 46 on a 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the half. But Sacramento reeled off the next 14 points in the next four minutes, and John Salmons' 15-footer gave the Kings a 60-46 lead. Phoenix scored just four points in the last five minutes of the second quarter, and the Kings led 64-50 at intermission.
Sacramento pushed their lead to 75-56 on a Thomas 3-pointer early in the third quarter, but the Suns responded with a 13-0 run. Scola contributed a dunk, two free throws and a 9-foot hook that pulled the Suns within six with 4:50 left in the quarter.
However, the Kings responded quickly, taking an 88-78 lead to the fourth quarter.
"That's the type of style we both play, up-tempo," Evans said. "We tend to make mistakes, and they came back and capitalized on them. But we did a (good job) keeping the lead, knowing when we needed a bucket and getting one."
NOTES: Indiana and Syracuse met in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night -- the first time the Hoosiers and Orange played in the event since the championship game 26 years ago, when Smart hit the winning shot in the final seconds to give Indiana its most recent national championship. Syracuse won Thursday's rematch. ... Marshall had 13 assists in his first NBA start in Utah on Wednesday. He joins Kevin Johnson, Negele Knight, Greg Grant and Jeff Hornacek as the only Suns rookies to have 13 or more assists in a game. ... Smart, commenting on Thomas: "I was 100 percent truthful with him. I said 'You're starting for me. You're starting for an NBA team. But I don't know if the rest of the league sees you as a starting point guard, and how you take it is totally up to you. You have to show them you can manage a team and pick spots when you must take over a team." ... After going 115 games without a 20-point game, Suns guard Wesley Johnson came in with back-to-back 20-point efforts. He hit five of 13 shots Thursday and finished with 14 points.